Lighten up Francis! (to make your point…)


photo by akk_rus

There’s no doubt we live in serious times.  The economy is awful, millions out of work…more bad things going on than you can shake a stick at.  And business is generally a very serious topic as well – try reading a book on lean manufacturing, business strategy or leadership and see how many times you smile.

I get it – people’s lives are at stake, bad things could happen, life needs to be taken seriously…but I think we’ve gone too far.  If you want to make a point, if you want to get someone’s attention, then being deadly serious all the time isn’t going to get you very far.  It gets lost in the noise and generally isn’t going to get talked about.

On the other hand, look at the traction that a really funny comment on twitter might get.  Here’s a list of the Top 25 funniest tweets about the VP debate last week.  Not only were these seen by millions of people during the event, but they were also covered by major media outlets and continue to be shared days afterwards.  Obviously not changing the world, but they are making a point (and being heard).

Another great example of making a point through humor (satire in this case) is Stephen Colbert.  David Gregory from NBC’s Meet The Press did an interview with him this past week where he talks about his success in making serious points with humor.

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If that link doesn’t work, you can find the original here:  NBC Meet The Press

A sense of humor can cut through the noise.  Being funny gets talked about and shared.  People who ‘get you’ will appreciate your style…although people who don’t get you will likely be annoyed or offended by your humor.  In any event in today’s deadly serious world, you would benefit from lightening up a bit.

Having said that, most of us aren’t all that funny.  The good news is you don’t need to try to develop your stand-up skills (unless you are already legitimately funny).  You can leverage all sorts of content that’s already out there.  You can find lots of funny pictures on Flickr (although be careful about copyrights).  There are loads of sites with funny quotes on all sorts of topics…and if you’ve got a lot of time on your hands, Youtube can be an amazing source of all sorts of stuff.

I have a client who started sending out a monthly business cartoon as her newsletter.  Her business focuses on some pretty dry financial topics (cash flow, factoring, etc.) and the cartoons are a fun way to make a point.  She’s licensing from a local cartoonist and for a small cost she’s getting a great response and standing out from her competition.

What could you do to lighten up?  What’s funny about your business?  I’d love to hear your thoughts – share them in the comments below.

Shawn Kinkade   Kansas City Business Coach